Survive Your Second Pregnancy When You Have a Toddler

Pregnant woman, another woman touching her belly, and a toddler looking at smartphone

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Being pregnant with a toddler in tow can be difficult, particularly during the first trimester. More often than not, early pregnancy comes with emotional changes, irritability, and mood swings. Combined with the exhaustion and morning sickness, it may feel like there is very little left to care for another child. And yet, so many parents manage to do it every day. What’s their secret?

During your first pregnancy, you may have been able to nap more frequently or had more time to practice self-care. This is more challenging when a toddler is around. You have to be on your toes and able to take care of them, which doesn't leave much time for resting.

There are many unique challenges that accompany a subsequent pregnancy.​ Learn some tips for caring for a toddler when your second pregnancy is getting the best of you.

Make a Plan

If you have morning sickness or just generally feel extra sluggish or yucky in the morning, try planning ahead. Set out work and daycare clothes the night before and prep an easy breakfast that requires minimal effort.

Since you're probably also really tired a lot earlier than usual, too, try to sneak your prep work in early in the evening—maybe right before or after dinner. And enlist the help of your partner, roommate, or friend.

If you have pregnancy insomnia, planning ahead and getting extra support will be extra important.

Reset Your Expectations

Remember that growing another baby is exhausting work. You aren’t being lazy, you are physically experiencing something that is preventing or making it difficult for you to accomplish all the tasks that you normally would.

Give yourself some grace. It may take you a little longer before you have the energy to tackle the laundry pile, and that's OK. In the meantime, be sure to ask your partner or another support person for extra help.

Keep Your Toddler Entertained

Many parents limit their toddler's screen time since studies have shown that excessive screen use can cause mental and behavioral problems in young children. However, you may want to give yourself permission to break your rules or bend your standards right now. Allowing your toddler to watch their favorite show or play a game on their iPad for a short duration can go a long way in helping you get a few moments of respite to yourself.

Another alternative that may capture your toddler's attention when you need it might include a bucket of toys that only comes out when you need a break.

Enlist Help

Perhaps it's time to lower your standards or enlist help. Your partner is the obvious first choice. Helping with additional chores, including laundry and cooking can make a huge difference.

If you normally take turns with certain tasks, ask if they are willing to take on extra for the time being. Don't try to carry the normal load and pretend everything is fine. Explain how you are feeling and try not to feel guilty about your request.

In addition to your partner, turn to your network of friends and family. It really does "take a village," and a subsequent pregnancy is one of the best times in life to draw on outside support.

If you don't have a lot of social support and you have the budget, you might also consider a meal service program or hiring a house cleaning service for a little while. You might also consider a postpartum doula.

Some families find that hiring a teen in the neighborhood to come over after school helps. Some use the teen for childcare while they nap or get some chores done, while others have the teen do the chores.

Learn to Juggle

Having a toddler while you're pregnant is a great chance to practice your creativity and to learn how to juggle multiple responsibilities. You will have to learn to balance caring for your toddler while caring for yourself and the baby. This is sometimes a difficult lesson for parents to learn. Don't forget that taking care of you is just as important, particularly in pregnancy.

When you can, make time to do something nice for yourself. Consider getting a massage, going for a quiet stroll through the neighborhood, or sitting alone in a coffee shop. Be creative when it comes to being kind to yourself. If your budget is tight, plan things that don't cost any money—some quiet time at the library, a picnic with a friend, or a walk at a nature preserve.

Pregnancy is only 40 weeks, but sometimes it can feel like a lot longer. Remember, you will have good days and bad days. Ask for help when you need it and continue to care for yourself.

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  1. Stiglic N, Viner RM. Effects of screentime on the health and well-being of children and adolescents: a systematic review of reviews. BMJ Open. 2019;9(1):e023191. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2018-023191

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